Bernard and Sharon Kavan of Linwood were recognized as the "Outstanding Organic Farmers of 2014 of the Year" during the annual meeting of the Organic Crop Improvement Association in San Antonio, Texas.
The annual award honors "producers who certify to the Organic Crop Improvement Association's level of excellence."
The Kavans have had an OCIA certified organic farm near Linwood since 1987, although their organic farming practices go back to the 1970s when the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted tours on their farm to showcase their practices.
According to Bernard, "Prior to OCIA certification you were at the mercy of the buyer as to the price you received and whether you got paid or not. Organic certification standardized and stabilized the organic market."
Bernard's crop rotation consists of oats seeded with alfalfa the first year, followed by a year of haying to extend the growing time of the legume and to reduce tillage. The third year is corn to make use of the nitrogen supplied by alfalfa. Soybeans are grown in the fourth year and corn in the fifth, and then the rotation is repeated.
He has also produced soybeans for the tofu market and blue corn for chips and popcorn.
The Kavans have a herd of mixed breed cattle to strengthen this rotation by making use of the oats and alfalfa as haylage.
UNL has even conducted bird studies on his farm, recording the number of species on his organic land.